After the genre exercise of Get Happy!!, Elvis Costello dropped back into usual album making routine with Trust. But while there’s no grand concept at work, it’s more diverse than his previous work. Costello has stated that he was paying attention to his contemporaries’ work on Trust, taking influences on board from The Clash, The Pretenders, The Police, and XTC. Additionally, he’s trying a lot of different styles – the excellent ‘Lover’s Walk’ uses the Bo Diddley beat, there’s an obvious country influence on ‘Different Finger’, and ‘Shot With His Own Gun’ is melodramatic in the style of Tin Pan Alley. The first two thirds of Trust is prime Elvis Costello, and some of my absolute favourite material from him, even though it falters over its last few tracks.
It’s the ballads that are often the most remarkable; ‘New Lace Sleeves’ is absolutely wonderful, perfectly arranged around Bruce Thomas’ prominent bass line. ‘You’ll Never Be A Man’ is pretty and melodic, with Nieve’s piano, but with some of Costello’s most pointed lyrics (“Are you so superior, are you in such pain? Are you made out of porcelain?”). Squeeze’s Glenn Tilbrook duets with Costello on the excellent rocker ‘From A Whisper To A Scream’, while ‘Strict Time’ is a vibrant showcase for The Attractions’ vibrant playing. The album does end weakly; ‘Shot With His Own Gun’ threatens to derail Trust, with Costello yammering his way through the painful melodrama, and the central metaphor of ‘Fish ‘n’ Chip Paper’ is clumsy and awkward.
Lop off the last three tracks, and Trust would be vying with Imperial Bedroom for the title of my favourite Elvis Costello album.
I haven’t discussed the bonus tracks on Costello’s albums, but ‘Sad About Girls’, written by Nieve, is very strong with its piano riffs and tender lyrics that contrast with Costello’s usual acerbic fare. There’s also a pretty take on Cole Porter’s ‘Love For Sale’.